The focus of this second article of the series centered on how to improve self and help others do the same, is on meaning and purpose. A key requirement for making oneself and others better is a sense of meaning and purpose in life. What is the purpose of existence? Why are we mortals here on earth? Is there any meaning to most of what we do? Let us explore a bit below. The introductory article observed the following major points:
Now we turn our attention to definitions. To resolve is to make a conscious decision and to stick to it; to be firm in solving a problem or in achieving a goal. To work in our context means to go beyond talking and planning to concrete actions to achieve a goal. It is to pay the price for a positive result. To improve is to make better, make progress, and to move to the next level in life.
This series is offered against the background that life as a whole is a precious gift from the Creator and as such is an opportunity that can be turned into success or that can be wasted. The ELBS former boss, Ambrose Mah, once said (perhaps quoting from someone else) ‘You are the architect of your own life”. That means among other things that each person is responsible for success or failure in life. In large measure each person determines the overall outcome of his or her life.
From a Christian perspective life is a priceless gift from God who is the ultimate architect of all of life but who requires human cooperation to fulfill the purpose for each life. God has created humans with a freewill and will not force anyone to be what she/he does not want to. We need God and God requires our cooperation to make success out of us. St. Augustine of Hippo put it like this: “Without God we cannot and without us God will not.” In other words, we cannot do without God. We need God’s grace, natural resources (air, vegetation, sunshine, rain etc), protection, guidance and power to achieve so many things. But God requires our cooperation to achieve his purposes for us and the world. So many good things cannot be done unless people avail themselves and take advantage of the opportunities around them by turning them into assets that can benefit self and others.
It is therefore incumbent upon every person to seek ways to make something good out of one’s life of whatever kind. The Bible through the Apostle Paul encourages believers to make the most of the opportunity (Ephesians 5:16). This is how he puts it: “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
So then, the series is meant to assist everyone to trust God, plan and work hard to achieve many positive things in life for the glory of God and the good of self, family, community and the wider world. Let us stop missing opportunities and make something of ourselves and contribute to the betterment of life.
Meaning and purpose becomes a key impetus for self-improvement and for achieving a lot of good things in life. Many people do badly or poorly because they have no reason or purpose to live for and to achieve anything for. They go through life purposelessly and aimlessly. Meaning and purpose differs from person to person, culture to culture and generation to generation. But Christianity and the world religions believe that there is an overall purpose and meaning for all humans regardless of age, culture, and status. What is it?
The catechisms (basic doctrinal teachings of a denomination) of some mainline denominations of the Christian faith put it succinctly and beautifully like this: “The purpose of man is to know, love, glory and enjoy God forever”. Man was created in God’s image for love and fellowship. King Solomon, the wisest and richest King whoever lived, penned down these words: “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of everyone” (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 12:13).
The fear of God and keeping his commandments are fulfilled in having and maintaining good relationships with God, fellow human beings and the environment.
God’s will is justice, fairness, peace and wellbeing for all. We worship and glorify God by doing what is right and helpful to all. Every person then finds his/her own purpose in life (divine purpose or calling) in whatever area of life that excites, generates passion and drive in him/her and is in the areas of human endeavors that up lift all humanity. This covers every honorable profession and field of human endeavor. It can take the forms of teaching, serving, entrepreneurship, politics, law, sports, business, pastoring, administration, hospitality, envisioning and the like. Every person, then, ought to find out his/her unique purpose in life and seeks ways to improve and use self for God’s glory, his/her own good and the good of others.